A Strawberry Shortcake is a delectable fusion of biscuit, fresh strawberries and cream. The convenience of this dessert is that each element can be made ahead of time and then combined shortly before serving. Good Shortcake starts with a cream scone. The perfect scone has a crisp exterior with an interior that is airy and fluffy with a rich buttery flavor. If you are preparing scones at all times use cold butter, add the liquid to the dry ingredients all at once, and blend everything as a whole quickly and lightly. Taking out the scones from the oven shortly before assembling the Shortcake would be great but will take much coordination. Alternately prepare the scones on the day they are to be consumed.
At all times buy strawberries when they are in season. Pick the ones that are bright red, plump, and firm, with no white or green "shoulders" at the stem end. The green leaf-like cap or hull should still be connected and it should not be brown or become limp. There should be no soft spots, bruising or mildew. Always inspect the underside of the container to make sure there are no bruised berries or juice (sign of overripe berries).
About an hour before arranging the shortcakes, take away the stems from the berries and gently wash them (do not soak).
If you are making Shortcake use 'Heavy' Cream or Heavy 'Whipping' Cream which means it has a 36 - 40% butterfat that will double in volume when whipped and keep its form.
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
few grains of nutmeg
1 egg, well beaten
6 tablespoons cold butter
1/3 cup milk
4 cups fresh strawberries,
3/4 cup brown sugar
1. Assemble flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Sift. Work in butter with pastry blender or fingertips; add egg and milk.
2. Blend just until dough is clammy. Turn dough into a buttered and floured 8 or 9-inch round cake pan and pat into shape.
3. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven, or until golden brown. Test with a toothpick inserted in the center. If it comes out with dough attached to it, decrease the heat to 350 degree and bake about 5 more minutes.
4. Remove from the pan and split horizontally with a serrated knife. Butter the cut side of both layers. Lay layers combined with strawberries along with their juice between the layers and on top. Garnish with a couple more whole berries and serve with whipped cream.
Prepare strawberries an hour or two just before serving. Rinse, hull, and slice 1 quart of fresh strawberries, leaving 8 to 12 whole for garnishing. Place the sliced berries in a bowl; add 3/4 cup brown sugar and let sit for at least 1 hour at room temperature.
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